Top ways to learn about wine

Tuesday, 5 April, 2022
Forbes, Lana Bortolot
Online or in person, learning about wine has never been more accessible.

Back to school might seem like a long way off, especially if you’re gearing up for school’s out, but if wine studies are in your future, it’s never too early to plan.

Why study wine? Sure, it will help you out when looking at a wine list or a retail shelf, and knowing a bit lessens your chances of buying a disappointing bottle. But it also enhances your enjoyment of what’s in the glass if you learn about food pairings at the same time.

Here are a few of the easily available options for your vinous pursuits:

Court of Master Sommeliers

The American chapter of Court of Master Sommeliers (CMS) was made famous by the “SOMM” movie and its sequels but was also beleaguered by an exam-cheating scandal in 2018, and, two years later, by a sexual-misconduct scandal involving a group of male members. The court has been since undergone the equivalent of the Alcoholics Anonymous “Step 4” (“a searching and fearless moral inventory”). Organized into four levels, each building upon the previous in knowledge, rigour and price, CMS leads to the Master Sommelier certification, one of the most prestigious in the industry. Graduates typically work in hospitality/fine beverage service, education or in import/distribution.

Society of Wine Educators

Society of Wine Educators (SWE). Offers professional credentials in the specialist of wine certification and the certified wine educator tracks. The self-study program offers study aids online such as workbooks, flashcards, maps and prep classes. Exams are administered online or in person at designated test centers. The pricing schedule reflects costs for exams and materials, with discounts offered to SWE members who are entitled to view specialist sessions on regions, viticulture and other topics.

Wine & Spirits Education Trust

Wine & Spirits Education Trust (WSET). WSET offers four levels of wine education, a trajectory that prepares people for the Master of Wine credential administered by the Institute of Masters of Wine. While the first three levels are accomplished in weeks, Level 4’s Diploma track suggests a minimum of 500 hours of study time and takes between 18 months and three years to complete.

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